The second case example is of a man who had been in sustained low income self-employment, despite working long hours every week. He was experiencing declining income but was unable to control his workload or prices. His options for waged employment were perceived as low.
Case example 2
The taxi driver
Mr B, a sole trader, was the only bread-winner for a large family. He was in his mid-40s, and said his health was good. He had supported his family through a series of low-paid jobs in the catering industry, but had several experiences of being laid off when business was slack, so decided to try taxi-driving.
He saw few other options, having no qualifications and speaking English as a foreign language. He had sustained this work for five years.
He worked regular, long hours through evenings and nights and usually spent 40 hours or more at work every week. He used his own vehicle, but was controlled by a taxi firm which notified him of journeys and set fares. In the first two years of this work he was making a reasonable living.
But his profits had been decreasing and he was getting fewer and fewer fares. It was not unusual now to wait two hours for a fare, which turned out to be a short local journey paying only a few pounds. Mr B could not increase his hours of work – he wanted to take some share in family life with his children, and was already working long hours. (Health and safety considerations put restrictions on the length of driving time licensed taxi firms allow their drivers.) Mr B could not increase the number of fares he took or the fares he charged, as both were under the control of the taxi firm.